Today is the third day of our reflection on Acts Ch 10. We’ve met Cornelius a God-fearing Roman centurion under angelic orders to invite a Jew to his home and we’ve met Peter a Jewish Apostle receiving a life and a church changing vision from God preparing him for a startling invitation. Let’s continue reading acts chapter 10 starting at verse 19.
Meanwhile, as Peter was puzzling over the vision, the Holy Spirit said to him, “Three men have come looking for you. Get up, go downstairs, and go with them without hesitation. Don’t worry, for I have sent them.”
So Peter went down and said, “I’m the man you are looking for. Why have you come?”
They said, “We were sent by Cornelius, a Roman officer. He is a devout and God-fearing man, well respected by all the Jews. A holy angel instructed him to summon you to his house so that he can hear your message.” So Peter invited the men to stay for the night. The next day he went with them, accompanied by some of the brothers from Joppa.
The centurion’s invitation was so taboo that Peter needed a vision from God to prepare him to accept.
God had given Israel the laws about food. Now I wonder if it felt like he was taking them away. In one moment centuries of law and lifestyle were being changed for Jesus’ Jewish followers. Was God contradicting himself?
Maybe it’s like this at 8:00 PM each night I tell my son that it’s time for bed at 7:00 AM each morning I tell him it’s time to be up dressed and ready for school. Am I a contradictory parent? No, I’m guiding him to the best thing for that particular period of time. God was making it clear to Peter that the time for exclusion was over. He was expanding his gospel invitation beyond Israel
I wonder, are we willing to let God break us all out of the box of our expectations? I wonder whether we can invite God today to speak to us like Peter and give us our instructions for today even if they are unexpected.
Obedient hospitality is at the heart of Gods’ mission to expand His church.
Cornelius was obedient to the angel’s instruction and opened himself and his home to the unknown.
Peter was obedient in accepting a controversial invitation and then went the extra mile welcoming taboo strangers as his house guests.
In the midst of social distancing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we might need to get creative in how we welcome and spend time with people. Have we put hospitality on pause, or are we listening to God’s ideas and instruction, ready to obey them
I wonder if this coming Sunday you could invite someone else round for breakfast and to join you to watch our Sunday service with you. Maybe someone who is on their own or someone who hasn’t got access to the Internet. If you can do it safely then I would encourage you to extend hospitality to others at this time. You never know what that might open up for you and for them at this time.
Let us pray.
Jesus, I surrender my expectations and prejudices to you. Teach me to listen for your instructions regardless of how controversial it is in my society, and to choose obedience even in the most unexpected of invitations today. I thank you, Jesus, that you said when I open myself up to others you’ll prompt people to open up with God our generous Father in heaven. Amen